Monday, April 13, 2015

It would be paradise on earth

Atheists don't believe in the secular paradise? Really?

Sheahen: You've said that baptizing a child or saying "this is a Jewish child"—that is, pasting a religious label on a child—is child abuse. In your letter to daughter, you ask her to examine what she's told based on evidence. What do you hope the world would be like if all children were raised without religion, according to your theories?

Dawkins: It would be paradise on earth. What I hope for is a world ruled by enlightened rationality, which does not mean something dull, but something of high artistic value. I just wish there were the slightest chance of it ever happening. 


im-skeptical said...

You can't be serious. You think Dawkins believes in an actual paradise like the one you believe in just because he used the term as a figure of speech?

Victor Reppert said...

No I don't. But he really thinks everything hangs on our coming to reject religion. When I say "the secular paradise" I am not saying that it will be like the Christian heaven. But he does seem to be claiming that life will be a whole lot better if there is an across-the-board rejection of religion than if religion remains. I think that is just plain delusional, and would think so even if I were an atheist.

Papalinton said...

Skep, I think Dr Reppert is sliding ever deeper into the darkside of religious belief, which is a real shame. The quality and substance of many of his more recent opinion pieces are an indicator of a very desperate and anguished disposition by which any measure is deemed OK so long as it shories up the last but inevitably crumbling vestiges of a disappearing primitive worldview, a worldview of ghosts, spirits, demons, unmoved movers, imaginary friends, a retinue of supernatural superstitious non-human entities.

There is a detectable sense that credibility of provenance of any article posted on this site lately is no longer a discerning academic or scholarly feature.

B. Prokop said...

"the last but inevitably crumbling vestiges of a disappearing primitive worldview"

You are, of course, referring to atheism, right? Or do I really need to link to THIS again?

Holy Martyrs of Auschwitz, Pray for us!

B. Prokop said...

To anyone reading this: You owe it to yourself to not just skim THIS ARTICLE, but to read it attentively - especially the portions where Cardinal Sarah discusses exactly what a society without God implies. Paradise? not likely!

In a conversation below this one, Linton dismissed (in the crudest possible terms) the 21st Century growth of religious faith and simultaneous collapse of atheism as a global presence as simply a matter of breeding. But his "analysis" misses the point. Once a society has abandoned God, it simply dies. First it loses its moral compass - it fails to recognize that human beings are creatures of infinite value by reason of their Divine Image. People are no longer individuals, but data points. Consciousness and free will go by the board. All is reduced to soulless materialism. This is followed by an inevitable debasement of culture and the intellect (just compare THIS to THIS. Then values and morality are turned on their heads - sin is praised and defense of virtue labeled "bigotry" and "hatred". Sanctity is replaced with consumerism. And finally, society simply commits suicide. It fails to reproduce itself (see: declining birthrates across the "enlightened" West). Such is the reality behind Linton's "breeding" quip.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have Mercy on us and on the whole world.

im-skeptical said...

Right. Victor thinks it's delusional to believe that life on earth could be better. But we already know that societies that are more secular are happier, healthier, and more prosperous. Meanwhile, Bob points out that some high holy priest in Africa is benefiting from the impoverished and downtrodden masses there who want to believe his lies because he offers the false hope of escape from their misery with the promise of a better life after they're dead.

Just hand over what little money you have to the church in this life, do whatever I tell you, and I'll give you an eternity in paradise. What a deal. And you people call atheists deluded?

Legion of Logic said...

Papa, are you capable of constructing even a single post that isn't filled with the same old, tired, nonsensical New Atheist tripe that we've been subjected to for over a decade now? I have yet to see one.

Skep, people who have all their needs met in life tend to be less religious. I think your logic is backward. It's not the abandonment of religion that leads to success and happiness, it's success and happiness that leads to abandonment of religion.

Queue a Papa diatribe filled with New Atheist slogans on how we need to increase wealth and health so more people will believe what he does, since he apparently can't rest easy in a world where people think he's full of crap.

im-skeptical said...

Legion of Logic,

This article is worth reading. It suggests that the causal relationship is not what you think.

Victor Reppert said...

I can't see a shred of evidence in the article you posted. Did I miss it?

Secular societies are happier are they? Like the USSR and the People's Republic of China?

Or in Denmark, the child pornography capital of the world?

Although many atheists maintain their moral sense, the moral pit of "everything is permitted" thinking should not be underestimated.

Communism began, I believe, with Marx's secularism combined with a genuine concern about economic injustice and the intent to do something about it. And the results are now in the history books. If you really think that secularism can make life better, the first thing I want to see is that you have figured out what the lessons were from this massive failure and have learned those lessons.

B. Prokop said...


Whilst I am in general agreement with your posting, I'd like to add a few thoughts.

Most importantly (and so I'll start with this), wealth and health, success and happiness are not necessarily always desirable goals. It all depends on what place the person has put such things in his life. They can all too easily become idols, false gods, a violation of the First Commandment. Recall Christ's meeting with the rich young ruler who asked, "What must I do to obtain eternal life?" When Jesus answered that he must give up his wealth, he left in sorrow, because his possessions in truth possessed him. He was powerless to part with them.*

That said, there is nothing inherently wrong with wealth, and it does not have to be an obstacle to following Christ. Joseph of Arimathea, for instance, is described both as a rich man and as a disciple of Jesus. So it all depends on what place you have put whatever possessions you do have. They can be a false god, or can be basically irrelevant to your spiritual health. And there is certainly nothing wrong with making every possible effort to improve the living standards of the poor. Such is, in fact, our duty. Not to do so places our very souls in peril (see Matthew 25:31-46)

Jesuit scholar Ignacio Ellacuria (who was murdered along with 5 other Jesuits and 2 civilians by a Salvadoran death squad on November 16th, 1989) wrote of a "poverty which can enable all to have access to some material and cultural goods which would make for a truly human life. That poverty is what makes room for the spirit, which now will not be choked by the desire to have all kinds of superfluities, when most of the world lacks what is necessary."

Finally, as to this supposed "happiness" brought about by a superficially prosperous society, let me close with the words of another Jesuit scholar, Joseph Mulligan. "Our shopping mall culture keeps consumers busy in an age of hitherto unknown materialism whose signs are emptiness, loneliness, anxiety, and a fundamental loss of meaning. A most revealing sign of the times is the blank, sad, or angry looks in the eyes of the young who congregate in our suburban shopping centers."

Saint John Paul II, Pray for us!

* There was a delightful Medieval legend that grew up around this figure. According to one tradition, the man went away disgusted with himself for being unable to follow Christ. So he at first thought he could satisfy the requirement to shed his wealth by giving away just a bit of it. But in his attempts to catch up with Jesus (who was forever on the move), he always seemed to get to where Christ had just left. So he tried giving away more and more, still with no success, until finally he was left with nothing but a single linen sheet to wrap himself in. He finally catches up with Christ - in the Garden at Gethsemane, only to witness the Passion of Our Lord. According to this version of the story, he is the unnamed figure in Mark's Gospel mentioned in Mark 14:51-52. Pure speculation, but I love it!

im-skeptical said...

"Secular societies are happier are they? Like the USSR and the People's Republic of China?

Or in Denmark, the child pornography capital of the world?"

Here we go again. As soon as you start to feel that you are losing the argument on rational grounds, you revert to the same old trope: ATHEISM = COMMUNISM. No, Victor, it doesn't. Destructive ideologies like communism and Christianity are parasitic influences that degrade society. Rational, educated people who are free to choose tend to reject both of them.

Ad as if that retreat to illogic weren't enough, you have to throw in another irrational appeal about child pornography? How about some facts. Both Japan and Denmark have a lower incidence of child sex abuse than countries with more restrictive laws.

Victor Reppert said...

No, atheism doesn't require communism. I am not saying that. But that is the way things went when a culture-wide secularism was introduced. It started with Marx's concern about exploitation of workers, in many ways it seems to me to have been well-intentioned to begin with, and it ended up with millions of deaths in the gulags. How did this happen, and how should future atheists who want to influence government avoid the moral pitfalls that the Communists fell into?

Communism is an atheistic ideology. It is not the only way atheists can go, but lots of them went there.

Victor Reppert said...

Is it possible that there were fewer child sex crimes reported after child porn was legalized because people stopped seeing it as such a problem?

im-skeptical said...

"how should future atheists who want to influence government avoid the moral pitfalls that the Communists fell into?"

By not being a communist. By the way, having lived in Europe, I have witnessed the appeal of communism to people in poverty. They were mostly Catholics.

"Is it possible that there were fewer child sex crimes reported after child porn was legalized because people stopped seeing it as such a problem? "

No. Read the article.

Victor Reppert said...

I did. I'm not convinced.

im-skeptical said...

"I'm not convinced."

Fine. You ignore the science if you want, but I prefer to listen to people who actually know what they're talking about.

Victor Reppert said...

The actual scientific argument appears to be missing.

im-skeptical said...

The article I cited was a news release. The study was an actual scientific study conducted by an actual scientist, who has been examining issues related to human sexuality for decades.

Victor Reppert said...

But lots of social scientists are working on this, and there is no consensus.

im-skeptical said...

Consensus on what? That availability of pornography is negatively correlated with crimes of sexual aggression? Or that there are valid reasons why such a thing might be true?

Victor Reppert said...

In any case unless all the child pornography coming out of Denmark is of the virtual variety (which I doubt), it still victimizes the children who are part of it. So Diamond's research doesn't provide a defense of high degree of child pornography in that country.